World’s Largest Fiddle
Back in the 1930s an elderly gardener in the town of Ironia in New Jersey decided to take those green thumbs and turn them to violin making. Perhaps a seemingly strange turn for a gardener to take but nothing that sets off alarm bells. That being said it was no ordinary violin that he would go on to create, in fact in 1935 he made the largest violin the world had ever seen, standing a whopping 14 feet high. It was so big that it needed a wooden frame just to be stood up! He didn’t just create this great beast though he also went on to make some other marvellous instruments including a swarf cello (a step in the opposite direction), a violin with not one but three necks and a hybrid harp/cello. Here are a few other wacky instruments that may intrigue you.
In 1936 (the 30s was obviously a golden age for new music) the cello-horn was first debuted at a trade show in Chicago, later making the pages of the Popular Science Monthly magazine. Unlike your average run of the mill cello, when the strings were bowed on this bad boy the sounds were produced through a great big brass horn instead of a wooden body. It was said to have produced a sound that lay somewhere between the brass and string sections, whilst belonging to neither.
To be honest of all the possible combination instruments this one doesn’t seem so crazy. The harpitar is as you’d imagine a mixture between a harp and a guitar. This instrument was created in 1918 by R.E. Bates who enjoyed the sounds of the guitar but believed that it lacked projection power. He took the body of a harp and strung six strings across it, tuning them as you would a guitar. The harp is renowned for being one of the hardest instruments to play, however this would surely be much easier, providing the simplicity of the guitar with the beautiful sounds of the harp.
Let us fly back further in time, this time to 1850 to see another larger than life musical instrument, this time a huge double-bass. Though not as ridiculously sized as the worlds largest violin it still stands at 3.48 m tall. It was created by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume and was actually too big to play with your hands alone, requiring a system of foot pedals to produce different notes.
Always end with a bang, in this case our final entrant is the pyrophone organ, also referred to as the fire organ or more aptly, the explosion organ. This instrument was powered by combustion, meaning that a certain section of it needed to be ablaze. It can be powered by gasoline and propane and essentially creates explosions that then send exhaust down the pipes in order to regulate sound and create sweet, sweet music. Though you might want to calculate its emissions before give it a go.